Sunday, January 31, 2010

Addison's first trip to school!

I took Addison to school on Friday to meet my students and some of my colleagues. Kerri, my sub had prepped my class that we were coming, so they were instantly silent the second we walked in. Addison had fallen asleep on the drive there so she stayed cozy in her carrier for a little bit while I greeted small groups and let them come get a closer look. They've been greatly anticipating this little girl ever since I told them about her several months ago. It was fun to see their reactions and hear their comments. I gave them a chance to ask questions about her and that was pretty entertaining as well.

I think her first day of school wore her out though. Between that outing and the small group party we had at the house that evening, she was so tired that she slept the whole night through. She fell asleep in the Pack 'n Play downstairs so I decided to start the night out sleeping on the recliner until her 1:00 bottle at which time we'd both move up to the bedroom. However, she didn't ask for that bottle until 6:00! Too bad I wasted that long night in a recliner when I could have been in bed!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

One Week Home & All Is Well

Upon arriving at home we were joined by my (David's) parents and we just had to post a few pictures of our little baby with her grandparents.

Addison had her first doctor appointment yesterday, and all seems to be great with our little girl. Melissa and I even had the privilege of getting our H1N1 shot while we were there. It was strange for me to go to Addison's appointment and have us be the ones who came away with a shot, but such is the price of parenting. (Ok, so we got the nasal kind, but the shot sounds so much better for blogging.)

Tonight I also got a little present from Addison during her bath. I was holding her in her towel after she had just finished a lovely warm bath which she throughly enjoyed, and I felt something warm... Addison decided to leave a little mustard like substance for me that proceeded to slightly ooze with the pull of gravity and proceed down my shirt. I now officially feel like a dad. :) We decided not to post a picture of this momentus event.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Go Colts!

I may have been born in New York, but I'm a Gafford now. Go Colts! Thanks, Aunt Julie for the bib!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Welcome home, Addison!

Some friends from our small group at church did a fantastic job welcoming us home Wednesday night! When we pulled into our driveway we saw this:

When we went inside, we found this:

And after we'd been home for only about 10 minutes, they returned with this!

Who could ask for better friends! After being gone for 3 1/2 weeks and on the road for 2 days, this was a fantastic welcome home. Thank you, Best (Wednesday) Small Group Ever!

Minnesota or Bust - Pt. 4

Our final day of driving towards the great state of Minnesota was relatively uneventful, and we were thankful. This little girl is a good traveler, and gave us about 3 hours between bottles as we drove. As we approached Chicago for the first bottle, she was nearing her 3 hour time limit, but she was sleeping like a log, so we decided to keep plodding on. Wouldn't you know it that she decided to wake up just on the south side of Chicago where there isn't any place to pull over... Melissa decided to give her a bottle in her car seat while I tried to find a place for us to stop so we could commence with the burping. About halfway through the bottle we found an Oasis where we were able to finish off her meal.

This brought us back to around lunchtime, and it just so happened that my parents had never had a Portillo's Hot Dog before, so it was time to introduce mom and dad to the classic Chicago hot dog. Following lunch, we kept moving along and it looked like we were on track for a dinnertime arrival home.

We stopped at Culvers for our afternoon break and dog walk and learned that not all Culvers have the 2-4pm happy hour. How disappointing! Cmon Wisconsin Culvers! Concrete Mixers = great way to stay awake while driving.

Overall, the weather coming home was fantastic. I don't think we saw snow a single time on our trip. Thanks for your prayers everyone!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Minnesota or bust, pt. 3

We successfully accomplished the first leg of the trip yesterday, arriving in Howe, IN just around 4:30, just in the nick of time for the next bottle. Mom and Dad Gafford arrived shortly after, excited to meet their new granddaughter (#4) for the first time. Since Addison was then content with a full tummy, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity and head for dinner. I (Melissa) grew up just off of this exit and haven't really been back much in the nearly 14 years since moving away. We still didn't end up getting into Sturgis but we did eat at an old family favorite, Golden Buddha.

After dinner, David sent me off to his parents room for a wonderful 3 hour nap before bedtime. He and his parents stayed in our room with Allie and Addison while I had the most sound 3 hours of sleep I'd had in a while.

Now here we are on day two of our trip, with David's parents following behind. It will be another full day of driving but we are really looking forward to finally being in the comfort of our own home!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

McDonalds, Already?

It's Addison's first official road trip, and wouldn't you know it she choose to get hungry at an exit where there is only a McDonalds. How do kids know just where the closest Playland is? Hmmm... So, it's bottle and diaper time and I suppose I'll have to cave and go in and get our picture taken with Ronald for the memory book. (well, no Ronald, so here's a pic with dad under the arches.) Here's to the start of a wonderful relationship...

Minnesota or bust, pt. 2

Goodbye New York! Hello Pennsylvania!

Minnesota or bust, pt. 1

We're on our way. "Only" 1000 miles to go! Addison had a bottle just before leaving so we may be good for a few hours. We're hoping to get as far as Howe, IN today and finish the rest of the way tomorrow. I didn't get much sleep last night so hopefully I'll still be able to help keep David entertained. We appreciate your prayers for this journey!

We've had a great time on this trip. It has truly been life changing, obviously. We really enjoyed meeting most of Addison's birth families while we were here and will be lifting them up in prayer as they're missing our little one. We are really excited to begin this next chapter as the new and improved Gafford family!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Free iPod/iPhone Game this weekend... - Dark Nebula

Free this weekend only...

Dark Nebula game for iPod touch and iPhone.

Here's the link...


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Adoption Chronicles: 1 week old!

Happy one week birthday, baby Addison!

This little girl has brought such joy into our lives this past week. It has been an incredible change for us since bringing her home, as any other parent can attest to. After 8 years of marriage, you get used to a pretty "selfish" lifestyle. You can sleep, eat, shower, and use the restroom whenever you feel like. I never would have called those selfish desires before, but am realizing that I am still surviving (even thriving perhaps!) without being able to do the above... when I feel like. In most cases those things are still happening, but there's a new boss of us now. No longer are we the decision makers. There is now an 8 day old baby ruling the roost and calling the shots.
I have to admit though, she is taking it easy on us for sure. I have been taking the night shift, leaving David to get as restful night of sleep as possible, and then he relieves me in the morning so I can sleep for a few more hours. Thankfully, (and I'm sure due to the hundreds of people praying for her and this whole transition) Addison seems to have figured out the difference between day and night already. According to her birthmother this is not something she understood so well in utero, so this came as quite the relief. For the last 2 nights she's only woken me up one time prior to our "changing of the guards" around 7:30 in the morning. After a bottle, quick diaper change, and reswaddling she's back to sleep within 15 minutes and this momma is back to bed for another 3 1/2-4 hours. I don't think I could ask for a better 1 week old!
In other news, since we are adopting out of state, part of the reason we planned to be here in NY for so long was because something called an ICPC had to be approved in both states before we could take Addison across state lines. We were told to expect this to take up to 2 weeks, possibly longer (time line starting once the birthparents signed their papers). Another result of all of your prayer, the papers were signed on Saturday before discharge, the lawyer sent them on to NY state on Tuesday who then immediately over-nighted them to MN on Wednesday and we received word by Wednesday afternoon that the ICPC was approved and we are free to leave at any time. Unbelievable! We aren't packing our bags yet however, because we've got very special plans scheduled for this weekend.
This Sunday afternoon we will be doing an entrustment ceremony. The ceremony is designed to give the birthparents some closure and symbolically hand Addison over entrusting her to us. Often times this type of ceremony would take place at the time the adoptive parents receive the child, however our situation is a little different with us being from out of state. Our birthparents felt that it would be better to do it closer to when we actually leave. Your prayers have been felt in an unbelievable way this far. Would you please pray with us for this ceremony on Sunday? Pray especially for Addison's birthfamilies that God would continue granting them with peace and comfort.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Parenting Chronicles - Code Brown... First Attempt

We've all been wondering when the day would come for David to change his first diaper, and apparently today was the day. He's always told me that poopy diapers were going to be an issue as David has a terrible gag reflex. He always joked that the only way he'd be able to do it was with a gas mask. However, following my nap and his 2 hour stint with Daddy duty, this daddy decided it was time to attempt to change some doody. He handed me the cameras and we ventured up to the bedroom. Even once he confirmed that it was in fact a dirty diaper and not just gas, he still ventured forward with utmost confidence, never once asking for relief from me. Addison cooperated as well as she could, waiting to fuss until the very end even though she does not care at all for changing times. And now I share with you his trophy picture signifying the completion of Daddy's first-ever poopy diaper change.

Addison's onesie reads "Daddy loves me" and that certainly must be the case for him to be able to do what he did. (By the way, if you've been following my "point system" that got started en route to NY, true to my word, I did reward David with his 500 points for this poopy diaper!) Way to go, Daddy! We're so proud of you!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Parenting Chronicles - Sleep, What's That Again?

The last 48 hours have been like going from 0-90 mph. From waiting for a week for little Addison to be born to 24 hours a day caring for her has been quite the change for the Gafford family. For probably the first time in the past 3 years I didn't get on a computer or even pick up my phone. Even I was surprised. When asked today if I had gotten a text from someone, I couldn't even remember where my phone was. Our lifestyle has changed for sure.

Our first night was a night full of wondering and trusting. For the first time parent, there's always the question of what is really going on in that crib across the room. When you hear a sound, you jump up and wonder if there's something you need to take care of. When you don't hear a sound, you jump up and wonder if there's anything you should be taking care of. I'm pretty sure if you all were able to be a fly on the wall that it would have been quite the comedy. Mommy & Daddy Gafford have been learning how to sleep when Addison sleeps and all of the things that she likes when she's awake. As I type this, it's dad's shift and Addison is sleeping in the basinet next to me all snuggled up like a burrito. One of my new favorite devices that I didn't know existed prior to this week is the hook & loop swaddling blanket. (I would say "velcro" blanket here, but you 3M'ers have educated me all too well. I thank Jeff Jackson and Brian Burquest for this.) Addison loves to be swaddled, and it just so happens that her dad is an expert burrito maker. The ability seems to transfer quite well.

Today we had a great time checking in with the birthparents. They visited with us for a bit this afternoon and were greeted by a bright eyed baby girl. We had fun laughing at passed gas, most of which came from the baby. :) It has been good for all of us to have a relationship where we can visit and stay in touch. Melissa and I look forward to a future where Addison can know her birthparents.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Adoption Chronicles: Home With The Family...

Today was a day of mixed emotions for everyone involved, for today was the day to leave the hospital. Melissa and I drove over to meet both birthmom and birthdad this morning, and a couple of hours later, the 5 of us climbed into our car together to head for home. It was bittersweet for us. We were so excited to have Addison coming home with us and at the same time sad for the birthparents who have become great friends to us. Birthmom and birthdad begin a new journey today also, and I'm sure would appreciate your prayers. Melissa and I are both extremely proud of them for choosing life for Addison in a society where it could have easily gone another direction. Making the hard decision to go through this entire process with awkward days in high school, sleepless nights, restless days, and the pain of childbirth is truly a sacrifice. As the two of you embark upon the next stage of life, know that Melissa and I will always be grateful for the sacrifice that you made to bring this child into our lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with you both.

For us, it was an exciting time of meeting mom and dad Liddick at the front door with video and still cameras flashing away documenting our arrival with this precious little bundle of joy. As soon as we arrived home, it was diaper and feeding time for the baby before a very important introduction to the other member of our family. Grandma Liddick stepped up to the plate to change the first diaper here at the Liddick house while Melissa got the bottle ready and David settled down the dog for her introduction.

We took a video of Allie's introduction to Addison for you all to enjoy with us, but are having trouble posting it. Maybe next time. So far it looks like she's going to be a good big "sister".

Following Addison's meeting with Allie, it was time for settling in. I got to hold Addison for an hour in the family room, and I had my first experience with a Boppy. I must say, I had no idea what it was prior to having a baby in the house, but now i'm sure I couldn't live without it. I wonder how my mom held me for hours on end without a Boppy? :) Melissa took the second shift, and it looks like it's time for the family to settle down for a little NFL playoff madness. The Bengals and the Jets are about to kickoff as I write this, and I must take my leave. I'm not going to miss my daughter's first NFL game!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Adoption Chronicles: It's A Girl!

Addison Nicole Gafford
January 7th, 2010. 4:06 p.m.
21in. 8lbs 1 1/2 oz.

Adoption Chronicles- Labor and Delivery, pt. 2

Reporting from the waiting room. Melissa is back with the birthmom and she's halfway there. More to come!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Adoption Chronicles- Labor and Delivery, pt. 1

Induction is scheduled to begin around 10:00 tonight (eastern time zone). Please pray, pray, pray for a quick and smooth delivery!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Adoption Chronicles - The back story, pt. 11

Who knew this back story would have so many parts to it! We thought we'd be writing about an actual baby by now. So sorry to disappoint you with more back story when you're all so eagerly awaiting news of her arrival, but we want to at least post something in the mean time!

After our first night of sleep in NY, the first couple of days were mostly spent hanging out with Melissa's parents (our gracious hosts for the next ? weeks). We did some shopping, saw some movies (2 thumbs up for Avatar in IMAX 3-D), ate out, played Wii, etc. On Wednesday morning our birthparents took us to the George Eastman House. (George Eastman was the founder of the Eastman Kodak company). We enjoyed a tour of the house and got a kick out of seeing all of the old cameras in the museum. Wednesday was baby's due date so I think we were all hoping that walking around the house and museum might spur on some action, but alas the day came and went with no baby. Later that afternoon Melissa was able to accompany the birthparents and grandma to her OB appointment. All seemed well and an ultrasound was scheduled for the next day.

That evening both birthparents' families came over to the house for a delicious dinner prepared by Melissa's mom. It was a beautiful evening of fellowship and getting to know some of the members of the families that we hadn't had a chance to meet yet.

The next Day Melissa and her mom were given the opportunity to be present for the ultrasound. Though it was exiting to see pictures of the baby in person, we were really wishing to just see the real thing!

Monday, January 04, 2010

iPhone App "Let's Golf" FREE! Today only

For those of you iPhone/Touch users who like to have a game or two around, today's your lucky day. Check the link below to download a free golf game good today only. It's a sizeable download, so consider using the computer you sync your phone with to download. Enjoy!

Adoption Chronicles - The back story, pt. 10

Fortunately we'd decided ahead of time to split our trip up into two days. David's mom and dad offered to meet us for the night at a hotel just off the turnpike in Ohio. We enjoyed dinner together at a nearby Greek family restaurant (the only one in town). Then we spent the remainder of the evening hanging out at the hotel watching Allie do things like this:

The next morning we enjoyed our continental breakfast together before loading back up and hitting the road again. Here are David and his parents with Allie before our departure.

When we got back on the turnpike we stopped to collect our ticket for the toll road and lo and behold the IPass was working. So for the remainder of our trip we were able to drive on the tollway "hassle free".

Day two of our drive seemed to go a lot faster than day one. Granted it was fewer hours on the road, but those hours seemed to pass a lot faster. I got a lot of use out of David's iPhone, making frequent updates to Facebook and enjoying the various apps he'd downloaded. I also made up a game to play with David where I chose a song on my ipod and awarded him 5 points if he could name the artist and 10 points if he could name the title of the song. This was great entertainment for quite some time until he got to about 275 points and realized he didn't know what the points were good for. We're still negotiating the terms of my point system, but I did award him a point for every mile driven on this trip (nearly 1000 so far), and promised 100 points/wet diaper and 500 points/poopy diaper. For some reason that doesn't seem to entice him at all!

We arrived at Mom and Dad's house just before dinner. Later that evening our birthparents stopped over to see us and say hello. I think we all breathed a sigh of relief that we'd made it in time, and the baby was officially given clearance to come any time now.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Adoption Chronicles - The back story, pt. 9

Let me preface this post by explaining that David and I hate road trips... a lot. Any distance over two hours is too long for us. However, we love our dog... a lot. Knowing that we'd be gone a minimum of 2 weeks, probably longer, we just couldn't see ourselves leaving her behind for that long. So we made the ultimate sacrifice and in saying yes to our beagle Allie, we said yes to an 18 hour drive in December. Like I said, we really love our dog.

We left the house around 6:30 Saturday morning. After quick stops for Caribou, breakfast, and gas, we were on our way. The roads weren't great for the first couple of hours but they were "good enough." Once the sun rose it made travel a little more challenging as it produced an awful glare on the wet roads for quite a while. We crossed into Illinois just before noon and our first stop was at a Road Ranger gas station to purchase an IPass. As soon as we returned to the car I called the 800 number on the box to register our unit. After all, the whole reason we purchased it was to drive on the toll road with greater ease. After being on the phone with Jerod (with the emphasis on the -od) (I don't mean he was odd; the emphasis really was on the -od of his name) for about 20 minutes, he concluded that we couldn't actually use the IPass since we didn't have permanent plates on our Outlook yet. (Remember we'd only taken posession of our vehicle just days before this trip). I could give him the plates for our Neon and that got things moving a little until I reminded him that we weren't presently driving the Neon. The number on our temporary plates had a different amount of characters than he could type into his system so he really couldn't help us. However, he did assure us that we could go ahead and use it and then once our permanent plates arrived we could call back and they would credit us any fees we'd been charged for using an invalid IPass. Well enough... I wrote down his name, and we decided to give it a shot. Except for the next toll booth we approached wouldn't raise the gate for us so we still had to shell out the $3.00 cash anyway. We gave up and just paid cash for the remaining tolls through and around Chicago.

The weather going through Chicago got horrible, by the way...

We were bound and determined to make the most of the situation and reward ourselves with Portillos hot dogs for lunch. And even though it took us entirely too long to find one "along the way", we did in fact get our Portillos for lunch. Yes, we inhaled them since our dog was waiting for us in the Outlook during somewhat of a blizzard, but we did get our Portillos hot dogs.

By 4:20 we'd hit the half-way point for our trip. 499 miles down, 497 to go. For some reason this wasn't that encouraging to us. After being on the road for so long, surely we must have been more than half-way there!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Adoption Chronicles - The back story, pt. 8

Melissa's last day of school was Tuesday, December 22nd. From that point on, she was ready to be in New York. She'd been given the rare invitation to be present and witness the birth of our first child and did not want to miss out on this opportunity. An 18 hour drive stood between her and our soon-t0-be-daughter.

However, being Director of Worship Arts for our church, David had a lot of responsibility with the Christmas eve services and really wasn't free to get away until those were completed. Not a huge problem; the baby wasn't due until the 30th. So we'd planned to just leave Christmas morning for our two day journey to New York.

Unfortunately, at the beginning of the week, the weather reports were looking bleak. They were calling for "The Worst Blizzard since Halloween of '91." Reports were predicting possibly up to 2 feet of snow in parts of Minnesota between Tuesday and Saturday. Great! It would keep us from getting on the road, and once we finally did, it would travel the whole way to NY with us. Super!

Many well-intentioned friends advised us to leave early and beat the storm. Easier said than done. David couldn't exactly just abandon the Christmas eve services without reason to believe that our baby was coming early. We resolved ourselves to just stick it out and trust that God would continue to be in the details of our adoption. He'd certainly taken care of things this far... why on earth would he stop short of this?

The snow came... and came... and came... Christmas morning we woke up to rain. Huh! We weren't exactly expecting that. The good thing was that we got about an inch of rain instead of 10 inches of snow. The bad news was that the inch of rain on the 6 inches of snow that was already in our driveway made for very difficult clearing. The snowblower couldn't handle the slush and our backs couldn't handle the weight of the snow in our shovels. David pulled a muscle in his back pretty bad trying to sling snow over the already tall mounds and had to go in to apply heat. Melissa kept at it, feeling as though it was the one thing standing in her way of getting on the road. Must - get - out - of - the - driveway!

Christmas Eve 2009

Adoption Chronicles- The back story, pt. 7

We started thinking about trading in one of our vehicles last spring. Both were about the same age and were getting a little old, (nine and 10 years). The debate was which one to trade. Do we trade in the truck, the older of the two, that we could still get a little bit of cash for in a trade, or do we replace the Neon, which is 9 years but having it's share of issues? Car shopping has always been one of David's least favorite things. He prides himself in always being able to buy the best-of-the-best for the bargain basement price. This is really difficult to do when shopping for a car. We looked pretty seriously for about a month or so, but never found the deal we were willing to fall off the log for. We seemed frozen in our ability to make a decision. So... we didn't make one.

There came a point however when God pushed us off that log we'd been balancing on for so long. We no longer needed to decide which vehicle to replace. He made that very evident to us when David got rear-ended, resulting in a totaled Expedition. Fortunately, even though David was transporting 3 other church staff members, no one was injured. In the end, we received more money from our insurance settlement for the truck than we would have gotten if we'd traded it in. Also, it saved us the anguish of having to decide for ourselves between our two vehicles. One was totalled... done. I guess we'll replace that one. We could no longer drag out our search for a new vehicle indefinitely. The discomfort of having to share one vehicle would force us to make our decision in a timely fashion. (However some very generous friends shared their extra vehicle with us during the interim, allowing us to be slightly particular and not desperate in our search).

We ended up finally choosing a 2007 Saturn Outlook which was purchased for us at auction in Florida. The problem was that it was in Florida and needed to find its way to Minnesota in time for our big road trip. It was a bit of a risk, knowing that if baby decided to show up early, we may have to make the trip before the Outlook arrived. However, all was well when we picked up our new (used) car on Tuesday evening (22nd), and were planning on leaving Friday morning (25th). Just in the nick of time.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Adoption Chronicles- The back story, pt. 6

Realizing that our time being a family of only 2 was limited, there were a few things that we knew we needed to accomplish before we were joined by another family member. Ever since we purchased our home in August '08 we have had a huge to-do list. Staining the cedar siding rose to the top of that list. I guess we thought that we'd have all the time in the world, but suddenly this became super high on our priorities and a great urgency was felt. Day after day, every spare moment was spent outside slinging a paint brush, even when temperatures were down around 40. Our incredible friends gave of themselves and their time to come help us until the job was done (for the most part).

In addition to doing work on the outside of the house, preparations took place on the inside to make room for baby. David got quite friendly with Craigslist over the next couple of months trying to sell just about anything that wasn't nailed down in the baby's room. Black Friday sales enabled us to get awesome nursery furniture at an even more awesome price. (Would you expect anything less from David?) The furniture arrived before the rush came for Christmas Eve planning and other holiday events, and our friend Bryan came over to help with the assembly. Over the time of one afternoon, our guest room became a nursery.

From day one in meeting with our social worker, she strongly encouraged us to hold off on baby showers until after we brought baby home. Many people asked what the plan was for baby showers, and we just said we'll cross that bridge when she gets here I guess. (Which did seem quite strange to say to people who were looking to help organize a party to give us things.) Still, there were a few cards that arrived with gift cards to Babies-R-Us & a few other stores to help us get ready for the first few weeks with baby. A couple of recent moms also gifted us many of the clothes that their girls had grown out of, and they are just adorable.

Also, mom & dad Gafford showed up at our door with a car seat for our trip our to New York. They even showed me how to install it, so we were ready to roll. (Or so we thought...)